Canadian Underwriter

Swiss Re, Veolia, The Rockefeller Foundation team up to help build cities’ resilience to critical risks

January 22, 2016   by Canadian Underwriter

Print this page Share

The Rockefeller Foundation, Veolia and Swiss Re Corporate Solutions Ltd. have unveiled an infrastructure recovery initiative meant to help cities worldwide build resilience to critical risks and speed up economic recovery following catastrophic events.

Partnership seeks to build resilient cities globally

The partnership is designed to support cities around the globe in the areas of climate change adaptation, disaster risk reduction, infrastructure enhancement and recovery, states a joint press release issued Friday.

“Cutting edge pre-funded infrastructure resilience partnership – brokered by 100 resilient cities – will help ensure vital recovery of critical infrastructure after disastrous events in cities and countries around the world,” the statement notes.

Swiss Re, a wholesale provider of reinsurance, insurance and other insurance-based forms of risk transfer, and Veolia, a global provider of optimized resource management, will work with 100 Resilient Cities (100RC), “including New Orleans, on putting this partnership into practice,” the press release states.

The partnership was brokered by 100RC, a Rockefeller Foundation-funded initiative, which currently has 67 member cities.

Swiss Re and Veolia will work with cities to understand the risk exposure of critical assets under current and future climate scenarios. Both partners will perform risk assessments of cities, identify their most vulnerable and valuable assets, and work together to build resilience strategies around these assets.

Armed with the assessments, cities will be better able to develop “resilience plans to lessen the risk of these assets being affected, and simultaneously reduce their risk exposure over time,” the statement suggests.

“By planning ahead for major shocks and stresses, cities not only strengthen the resistance of their vital infrastructure, they can also limit economic interruption, and begin to quickly repair damage without waiting for insurance assessments, payouts, and solicitations for repair proposals,” it adds.

Dr. Judith RodinCities rarely have financial plans in place to protect critical assets against shocks before they occur, a shortcoming the new initiative seeks to remedy.

“In the aftermath of such events, cities must determine what is damaged, how it will be fixed, who can fix it and how to fund these repairs, which can take months or years,” the statement notes, adding the “initiative will dramatically improve and streamline the existing process.”

Beyond equipping cities with the tools needed to address constantly evolving risks, the statement notes, the initiative “will also ensure the livability and vibrancy of cities by building their economic and physical resilience.”

Swiss Re and Veolia will work to develop a pilot for the initiative in an 100RC city, such as New Orleans, where, for example, a potential pilot could focus on some of the city’s infrastructure, including critical water and wastewater systems.

Related to: RMS, 100 Resilient Cities partner to quantify, manage natural hazard risks

“Through the combination of their expertise, this initiative will help cities identify both vulnerabilities and opportunities, and pave the way for enhanced resilience,” says Dr. Judith Rodin (pictured above, left), president of The Rockefeller Foundation, whose mission has been to promote the well-being of humanity throughout the world.

Agostino Galvagni

“Our partnership with Swiss Re embodies the fact that resilience goes much beyond risk prevention and recovery in case of natural disaster,” Antoine Frérot, Veolia’s chairman and CEO, comments. “We are strongly convinced that resilience reinforces cities’ attractiveness and represents a competitive advantage for cities,” Frérot says.

“We’re convinced that if we can make it a success, the concept can be scaled and replicated for other cities, and for other services. It’s an important step in moving resilience from talk to action,” concludes Agostino Galvagni (pictured right), CEO of Swiss Re Corporate Solutions.